The spotlight lit by blackouts

The wave of polar cold freezes pipes in the US with temperatures of -18 ° C

However, they cannot be prevented from occurring, nor can they be ignored in sector planning. It is important to understand the endogenous and the exogenous to propose comprehensive solutions.

What can be done?

It is impossible to become independent of natural gas imports from the United States. This point was reached due to price competitiveness and the need to supply domestic demand with current electricity generation conditions.

This scenario is unlikely to change. Where Mexico can generate substantial changes is in the gas storage. Current capacity and technology are not enough to rescue CFE in sudden shortage. The liquefied natural gas reserves must remain available and be reinforced as a preventive measure.

At par, do not neglect investments in extraction and national production. It is not just a matter of injecting resources, but of distributing them according to profitability and efficiency. It is necessary to prioritize the deposits that represent competitive prices and leave aside those that would only divert resources from profitability.

Another priority action related to national production is the diversification and optimization of Pemex resources. The Dos Bocas refinery and other subsidiaries of the parastatal that have received large amounts of money are destined to produce gasoline, not to extract natural gas.

Increasing capital and public policies for this industry will decrease dependence on imports from other countries. In that sense, considering fracking and reactivating the rounds for unconventional resources would help to take advantage of the national reserves of natural gas and have more competitive prices.

Seek a balanced energy matrix. The emphasis on clean energy has been repeated, but there are multiple reasons behind it. Climate change shouts its presence with ever higher decibels, as has been seen in some parts of the United States and Mexico. It is neither possible nor convenient to return to fossil fuels which, in addition to polluting more, are more expensive. In addition, expanding the participation of renewable energies in the generation parks would cushion the impact of a lack of supply or natural gas.

Finally, strengthen and improve the national transmission network, the natural gas transportation system (Sistrangas). The infrastructure in gas pipelines and transmission lines is deficient. The Sistrangas pipelines are owned by the State, they follow a national interest and not one of profit, so it is convenient that they be strengthened. Investing in it would dilute the impact of unexpected events and with it, the number of blackouts would decrease.

In reference to the famous phrase by Reinhold Niebuhr: you have to have the serenity to accept what you cannot change, the courage to change what you can and the wisdom to identify the difference. Blaming other governments or other countries does not relieve the current government of responsibility; accusing them of not solving what is foreign does not solve either.

It is necessary to understand each part to design objective and comprehensive solutions. We must ensure that the focus that ignites the blackouts is that of ideas that illuminate the direction of the energy sector in Mexico, and not a red one that indicates the danger of continuing on this route.

Editor’s note: Antonio Michel studied International Relations at ITAM, where he is a professor, and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Maxwell University. He worked for almost 7 years in the Federal Public Administration, in the Ministries of Foreign Relations, Social Development, Energy and Government. His passion is international affairs, political affairs and public administration. Follow him on Twitter and on LinkedIn. The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

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